You can keep the final from Barcelona back in season one that lasted into the night. You can even forget the final two years ago held in this very casino that saw Denmark’s Mads Andersen win as the clock struck 3am and the camera crews frantically searched for scraps of blank tape before supplies run out. Those heads up matches may have been long, but tonight PokerStars qualifier Tim Vance, a 46-year-old contractor from St Louis in the United States, won a four and a half hour heads-up marathon – the longest in EPT history - to become the new EPT champion collecting DKK6220488 or €834,590.
Vance beat Denmark’s Soren Jensen, an exuberant character from Aarhus, Denmark, who would have had his own story to tell this week had his opponent’s ace-ten of spades not made the winning flush. Like you’d rehearse in your dreams when Soren moved in Tim knew the event was over, saying “It’s been nice playing with you sir, I call....” Soren was beaten.
Over the last few days Tim Vance has been the same approachable guy from the start of the day to the end. Easy to pick out in the card room for his tendency to stand up when either playing or not playing a hand, he was down to his last 11k on day 1 when I first talked to him, but survived into day two, then three, and arrived at the final with the chip lead. It was a lead that, despite valiant attempts from opponents, he was not prepared to give up.
The hand that turned the tournament onto his course came yesterday, late in the day against Kristian Pedersen, as we eeked our way towards a last eight. Pedersen had moved all-in, a colossal amount, with chips sprawled all over the table like some fool had collided with it and knocked a few stacks over. The reality was much different.
Tim Vance was running things through his head when the camera’s picked up on the hand. Tim liked to think aloud and at this moment decided his opponent had ace-king. He was convinced. Again and again he told himself “ace-king” before calling and showing his pocket nines. Pedersen, who had been waiting patiently as the crowds drew closer and cameras from the feature table ignored that and tried to tune in to what was being said, turned over his cards. He had ace-king.
From there Tim didn’t look back. Despite a slight jolt up early in the day – a hand he lost that that sent him pacing the stage and berating himself for nearly an hour, he never lost sight of the ultimate prize. Later Tim would say that a few years back after defeat in a main event satellite, he would stand in the line and tell people that if they bought him in they could keep everything. He had no takers, but perhaps it was their mistake.
So how did things unfold? It would be no finesse table, although we didn’t know that when things started at 2.15pm this afternoon...
Seat 1 -- Rasmus Hede Nielsen -- Denmark 789,000
Seat 2 -- Timothy Vance -- PokerStars qualifier -- USA -- 1,408,000
Seat 3 -- Daniel Ryan -- PokerStars qualifier -- USA -- 557,000
Seat 4 -- Patrik Andersson -- Sweden -- 283,000
Seat 5 -- Simon Dørslund -- Denmark -- 267,000
Seat 6 -- Nicolas Dervaux -- France -- 336,000
Seat 7 -- Søren Jensen -- Denmark -- 500,000
Seat 8 -- Magnus Hansen -- Denmark -- 458,000
Vance had the chips but attention was also on two other players. Rasmus Hede Nielsen of Denmark had started day three with the chip lead and had carefully steered his stack to a place at the final – something that was not always guaranteed to the leader on day three. He was more than capable of using them to maximum effect. As was Danny Ryan.
Danny was another PokerStars qualifier, but is also known as one of the many young masters of internet poker. His calm aggressive style, a million years from the expressive tendencies of Vance and Jensen, always posed a threat and clearly these two and Vance looked likely to dominate from the start.
It took half an hour for the first player to be eliminated. Patrick Andersen was first to go when he pushed all-in behind a button raise from Daniel Ryan. Ryan called showing A-5 with Andersen showing just K-6. A five on the flop did it for the American with no further help for Andersson who left with DKK 569,333 or €76,386.
Nearly two and a half hours passed before Simon Dørslund went next in seventh spot for DKK801,283 (€107,507). After a Tim Vance raise Simon pushed from the small blind leading Tim to make a tank call with A-K. Simon had A-8 and despite a straight draw on the turn found no further help.
Frenchman Nicolas Dervaux had been a quiet player from the outset. Was he caught in the headlights of the TV stage like some thought? Perhaps, but as Nicolas was unable to speak English, he may have been keeping quiet for a different reason.
He was eliminated in sixth place for DKK1,012,147 (€135,798) when he moved with J-5 only to be called by Soren Jenson with A-7. He looked happy at that to begin with but less so when a jack hit the flop. He needn’t have worried for long – the ace on the turn settled it for the Frenchman.
By now Tim Vance had become a kind of like-him-or-loathe-him figure. It was nothing personal, just that Tim tended to sing a lot (the entire back catalogue of the Beatles it seemed) and think out loud. That was nothing though compared to Soren Jensen.
Rumour had it that Soren had decided not to change his clothing for the entire week – presumably for fear of washing off the luck – and he also tended to celebrate big pots with exclamations of Nordic joy, cheers, air punching and bear hugs with his brother on the rail.
Danny Ryan would not be eliminated until after the dinner break. Ryan had threatened once or twice to break through and had cleared earlier hurdles the night before to make it here having lost a large part of his stack to the same Kristian Pedersen eliminated by Vance.
He was ultimately forced to make a move with A-Q only to be called by Rasmus Nielsen with A-K and suddenly we were left with four players.
Rasmus had kept pace at times and struggled at other times. But with four left he could hold on no more. He raised pre-flop only to see Tim Vance re-raising to 350k, putting his chips in before beginning on another chorus of song. Resigned to his fate Rasmus rested his head on the side of the table like he was about to see something nasty. He was. The flop came 9-7-J rainbow. Tim looked over at Rasmus hiding his head and announced ‘all-in’. Rasmus had little else to say...
Tim didn’t want to hear that. “You got a winner man, good call.”
Pocket eights for Rasmus with just A-Q for Tim. The jack on the turn paired the board and led Tim to call out for something he’d only needed a couple of times all week – some luck. An ace on the river duly turned the hand on its head. Rasmus was out in fourth place for DKK1,560,394 (€209,355).
That left three...
Tim Vance – PokerStars qualifier – USA – 2,037,000
Soren Jensen – Denmark – 1,485,000
Magnus Hansen – Denmark – 1,076,000
The final had gradually become a United States vs Denmark affair, or specifically Vance and Jensen. The third player in the mix was Magnus Hansen, another Dane who had done nothing wrong up to now and always threatened to sneak past into a position of authority, lying as he did just a few hundred thousand short of Jensen.
On a flop of T-4-9 he raised only to see Soren move all-in. Magnus checked his cards again whilst Soren took time for one of his many walks.
That brought Soren back who smartly showed 9-4 for two pairs. Just T-6 for Marcus and a pair of tens. The turn helped Magnus with a flush draw possibility but perhaps this final was not meant for him. It had been pre-ordained by the entertainment gods that these two extroverts, from opposite sides of the world, would meet in combat to see out the EPT Copenhagen. Despite a possible 14 outs on the river Magnus Hede Nielsen was out in third place for DKK2,045,381 or €274,425.
What happened next threw everyone. Vance and Jensen each put their foot on the brake. Actually they stood on the brakes. Things seemed to go from 100mph to 20mph in the space of a five minutes break.
Hands taking a regular pattern - a bet, a call, a flop, before both players checked it to the end. It happened again, and again and after twenty minutes it became clear that Tim and Soren intended to make this a battle of endurance.
Flash back to 2006. Mads Andersen and Edgar Skjervold, two of Scandinavia’s hottest players at the time fought a volatile match for several hours. It was made memorable by the double ups - both Andersen and Skjervold played with the necessarily gamble to seize a chance when they saw it. The result – swings one way then the other before Andersen eventually prevailed.
Vance and Jensen, however, took the opposite approach. Vance would later say that he knew the longer he could stretch out the final the better his chances. It could have been the fact he was drinking coffee whilst Jensen drank beer. Or, it could have been something to do with experience and an incredible ability to remain patient even when things looked dire – and both players had their fair share.
With Hansen gone Vance and Jensen were close on chips with Soren holding the edge.
Tim Vance -- PokerStars qualifier -- USA -- 2,125,000
Soren Jensen -- Denmark -- 2,475,000
Soren began pulling away and soon he was up to 2.8million. But neither player was prepared to throw in the towel. Again, small pots, bet and call checked down to the river. One pot one way, the next the other.
Then, two and a half hours into the heads-up this happened...
Tim raised pre-flop, his now standard 200k. As he’d done many times before Soren called and the flop came 8-2-T with two clubs. Another 200k from Tim but now Soren re-raised –nothing grand, a minimum bet to 400k. Tim called quickly causing heads on the rail to spark back into life. The queen of spades on the turn and Soren checked, as did Tim for a river card jack of clubs. Tim pushed and Soren called, showing the two pairs he’d made on the turn. But it was Tim’s turn to leap up in joy, showing the rivered flush. How things could have been different had Jensen bet on the turn.
“I should have raised you on the turn,” said Soren.
“Yes you should have” replied Tim.
But Tim was now back in front – 3.7million to 870k.
Could Soren regain some momentum after such a knock? Well, the answer seemed to be yes when, with hope seemingly lost down the rabbit hole, ten minutes later Soren got the best of it with pocket kings against Tim’s K-Q. No luck this time for the American and a double up for Soren.
But thoughts of a comeback would end there. At 1.40am on Sunday morning Soren checked a 2-7-8 flop, with two spades. Both players checked and the turn brought another spade, the three. Soren made it 115k now which Tim called quickly – very quickly. Something was about to go off. Soren moved in on the board showing straight and flush possibilities. Tim stood up. Would this be another internal monologue of possible hands? No.
“It’s been nice playing with you sir... I call.”
Tim slammed his A-T of spades, the nut flush, onto the table. Soren’s hand was immaterial now. After four and a half hours Tim Vance had won the EPT Copenhagen.
Tim Vance had spent all week talking out loud to his three and a half year old daughter Nanzi – her picture being pasted into the inside of his St Louis cap. Of everyone Tim has been one of those guys you wished well merely for the fact he was having a good time. He chatted with everyone, sung constantly, even when his hopes of cashing looked slim. But the shock of winning, the effect that this win will have on his life and his family was a little too much. After winning he did exactly the same as he’d done at every break this week. He went for a cigarette and to talk to anyone doing the same.
Now he’d won he had little to say. His job was done – the job he knew he could do when he landed in Copenhagen on Monday. He’d proved it to himself and the hundreds of people who watched the last hand and that perfect phrase to cap it all off. It was a pleasure watching you sir.
Tim Vance - "I knew I was going to win. I was the best and I wanted it the most. There were times I made mistakes and times I got lucky. But I outlasted him. I knew that the longer it took, the better my chances were of winning. It was a tough competition, as tough as anywhere I have ever played."
Final table result at EPT Copenhagen -
1st – Timothy Vance – PokerStars qualifier – USA -- DKK6220488 or €834,590
2nd – Soren Jensen – Denmark -- DKK3,521,429 or €472,463
3rd – Magnus Hansen – Denmark -- DKK2,045,381 or €274,425
4th – Rasmus Hede Nielsen – Denmark -- DKK1,560,394 or €209,355
5th – Daniel Ryan – PokerStars qualifier – USA -- DKK1,286,270 or €172,576
6th – Nicolas Dervaux – France -- DKK1,012,147 or €135,798
7th – Simon Dorsland – Denmark -- DKK801,283 or €107,507
8th – Patrik Andersson – Sweden -- DKK 569,333 or €76,386
A final wrap from the video blog team...